South Asia and Beyond

Competitive Populism Is Threatening The Fiscal Fabric Of India

 Competitive Populism Is Threatening The Fiscal Fabric Of India

NEW DELHI: Last week the Supreme Court signalled its displeasure at electoral handouts or freebies. It has since ordered the setting up of a high-powered panel to set out a blueprint to nix what it believes is a drain on scarce national resources.

Simultaneously PM Narendra Modi broke ranks with fellow politicians and called for an end to the freebie menace in a stump speech.
Consequently, the subsidy regime is under unprecedented scrutiny.

At one level this is a sign of the maturing of India that it is willing to not just discuss subsidies, but also whether they should be weeded out. Previously, the outrage would have forced a quick retreat with electoral consequences.

At the same time there is a realisation that all subsidies are not freebies. But then how do you draw a line? Can India wade through an otherwise binary discourse to discuss this vexing issue threadbare?

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